Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Initial impressions of Tussie-Mussie

Tussie-Mussie was one of the co-winners of the 2018 Gen Can’t design contest, which was co-judged by Button Shy. Gen Can’t + 18 card design PnP + Button Shy = I was bound to check Tussie-Mussie out.

Tussie Mussie is a real term, as I eventually found out. It means a small bouquet where the combination of flowers and herbs create a special meaning.  The concept is about six hundred years old but apparently became really big in Victorian England.

Every card in the game is a different flower. Mechanically, every card has three points of interest: a color, zero to two hearts and a special power. 

The special powers are where the real interest of the game comes from. Every card some something different, usually gaining points. Certain cards definitely have synergy. For instance, some cards give you a point for every card of a specific color.

Game play is very simple, a variation of I-Cut-You-Choose. The active player draws two cards and chooses one to be have down. The next player gets to choose one of the two cards and the active player gets the other. When everyone has four cards, you figure out the points based on the special powers and number of hearts. Three rounds and whoever has the most points wins.

I have to seriously praise the graphic design of Tussie-Mussie. The images on the cards look like they were taken right out of a Victorian era floral book (and maybe they were) Each color is represented by a distinct ribbon image on the side, which is great for someone like me who is color-blind and has a black-and-white printer beside. And the hearts and special powers are very clear.

I’ve only tried the solitaire mode, which is clearly the weakest way to play. In effect, the dummy player offers me the choice of a known or unknown card. Even with limited control, it has been fairly easy to beat the Demi prayer, particularly over three rounds.

I suspect that, while better with more players, the game is still going to be very light and very random. This isn’t a game killer, since even three rounds with play probably will take just ten minutes. Honestly, the strongest thing Tussie-Mussie has going for it is theme and graphic design.

Which might sound like I’m damning the game with faint praise but I’m not. There are a lot of options for light, short pleasant games, even if I’m just sticking to PnP games. And bad graphic design can be a serious game killer.

I’m not going to play Tussie-Mussie with serious gamers on a game night. It’s a game I’d play at restaurants or coffee shops or after supper and it’s a game I’d play with casual gamers or even non-gamers. And the pleasant and pretty theme/artwork and the easy to understand graphic design makes the difference between a game I’d never play and one that is seriously think about packing in my bag.

Tussie-Mussie is fluff but it is fluff done well.

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